So after my post on the prevalence of gender-variance, I thought it would be interesting to calculate actual numbers of transsexual and transgender people, just to get an idea of how big a population (constituency? ~_^) we’re talking about here.

Considering the contention around who actually has the right numbers though, I decided to calculate population separately based on each individual investigation or report, listing them in descending order with the oldest report [Tsoi88] at the top, down to [Reed08], the most recent, at the bottom. I know it’s not ideal, but at least it does help to give an indication of what various authorities are saying the populations are. Unfortunately it’s still pretty-much up to each of us to decide for ourselves who we’re gonna listen to. At least until all the big brains and official types can agree.

Before getting started, just a recap of the assumptions and rules I’m using in my calculations:

  1. Overall population statistics are assumed to be a 50% split between assigned male and assigned female.
  2. Adult population aged 18-60 is estimated at two thirds of total population, 67%.
  3. You’ll notice that most of these studies focus exclusively on Male-to-Female (MtF) transsexual people, specifically post-op. This is done mainly because it’s easy – you can point to a definite, irreversible change and obtain statistical data from surgeons fairly easily. Obviously this precludes gender-variant people who can’t have surgery due to financial or health restrictions, or who do not entirely identify as transsexual.
  4. Reliable statistics for the Female-to-Male (FtM) population are much harder to come by as phalloplasty is a much more expensive, dangerous and generally unsuccessful procedure than vaginoplasty. Consequently, many transmen opt not to have surgery, and so never become part of a fairly easily counted population. Historically the ratio has been about one FtM individual for every 2.5 MtF people. Where there’s no data I’ve used this ratio to extrapolate numbers for comparison, though some more recent studies are indicating a higher ratio.
  5. These statistics tend to assume that the majority of the population will have access to information about transsexuality as well as the means to medically transition, since they are based on research in developed countries such as the Netherlands and the United States. The reality in less developed countries is unlikely to correspond to these models. Populations are more likely to be ignorant of the realities or even existence of gender variance, not to mention have little chances of ever having the resources to transition.

So all calculations are for adult populations between the ages of 18 and 60 only, with assigned male and assigned female split exactly 50-50. All population statistics are latest census or estimated figures as per Wikipedia.

I’ve done two sets of calculations, the first based on the lowest prevalence statistics quoted in each respective report, which represents people seeking to transition or already having done so, and where available, a second set based on upper estimates as being representative of total populations of all gender-variant people.


Overview

Tsoi88
Bakker93
Wilson99
Conway01
Winter02
Conway07
Reed08


Sheet 1: Tsoi88

[Tsoi88]
Region Total population Transitioning/Transitioned Population Estimated Gender-Variant Population
MtF FtM Male-bodied Female-bodied
South Africa 47,900,000 5,506 1,924 no data no data
European Union 499,673,300 57,434 20,067 no data no data
United Kingdom 60,975,000 7,009 2,449 no data no data
Canada 33,558,000 3,857 1,348 no data no data
United States 305,831,000 35,153 12,282 no data no data
Australia 21,585,178 2,481 867 no data no data
China 1,321,851,888 151,937 53,086 no data no data
India 1,147,995,904 131,954 46,104 no data no data
The World 6,677,602,292 767,540 268,177 no data no data
Ratio to Total Population : 2,900 8,300


Sheet 2: Bakker93

[Bakker93]
Region Total population Transitioning/Transitioned Population Estimated Gender-Variant Population
MtF FtM Male-bodied Female-bodied
South Africa 47,900,000 1,342 525 no data no data
European Union 499,673,300 13,996 5,479 no data no data
United Kingdom 60,975,000 1,708 669 no data no data
Canada 33,558,000 940 368 no data no data
United States 305,831,000 8,567 3,353 no data no data
Australia 21,585,178 605 237 no data no data
China 1,321,851,888 37,027 14,494 no data no data
India 1,147,995,904 32,157 12,588 no data no data
The World 6,677,602,292 187,048 73,219 no data no data
Ratio to Total Population : 11,900 30,400


Sheet 3: Wilson99

[Wilson99]
Region Total population Transitioning/Transitioned Population Estimated Gender-Variant Population
MtF FtM Male-bodied Female-bodied
South Africa 47,900,000 2,090 522 no data no data
European Union 499,673,300 21,798 5,444 no data no data
United Kingdom 60,975,000 2,660 664 no data no data
Canada 33,558,000 1,464 366 no data no data
United States 305,831,000 13,342 3,332 no data no data
Australia 21,585,178 942 235 no data no data
China 1,321,851,888 57,665 14,403 no data no data
India 1,147,995,904 50,081 12,509 no data no data
The World 6,677,602,292 291,306 72,760 no data no data
Ratio to Total Population : 7,641 30,592


Sheet 4: Conway01

[Conway01]
Region Total population Transitioning/Transitioned Population Estimated Gender-Variant Population
MtF FtM Male-bodied Female-bodied
South Africa 47,900,000 6,387 2,555 31,933 12,773
European Union 499,673,300 66,623 26,649 333,116 133,246
United Kingdom 60,975,000 8,130 3,252 40,650 16,260
Canada 33,558,000 4,474 1,790 22,372 8,949
United States 305,831,000 40,777 16,311 203,887 81,555
Australia 21,585,178 2,878 1,151 14,390 5,756
China 1,321,851,888 176,247 70,499 881,235 352,494
India 1,147,995,904 153,066 61,226 765,331 306,132
The World 6,677,602,292 890,347 356,139 4,451,735 1,780,694
Ratio to Total Population : 2,500 6,250 500 1,250


Sheet 5: Winter02

[Winter02]
Region Total population Transitioning/Transitioned Population Estimated Gender-Variant Population
MtF FtM Male-bodied Female-bodied
South Africa 47,900,000 no data no data 95,609 38,244
European Union 499,673,300 no data no data 997,352 398,941
United Kingdom 60,975,000 no data no data 121,707 48,683
Canada 33,558,000 no data no data 66,982 26,793
United States 305,831,000 no data no data 610,441 244,176
Australia 21,585,178 no data no data 43,084 17,234
China 1,321,851,888 no data no data 2,638,427 1,055,371
India 1,147,995,904 no data no data 2,291,409 916,564
The World 6,677,602,292 no data no data 13,328,547 5,331,419
Ratio to Total Population : 167 418


Sheet 6: Conway07

[Conway07]
Region Total population Transitioning/Transitioned Population Estimated Gender-Variant Population
MtF FtM Male-bodied Female-bodied
South Africa 47,900,000 10,644 4,258 31,933 12,773
European Union 499,673,300 111,039 44,415 333,116 133,246
United Kingdom 60,975,000 13,550 5,420 40,650 16,260
Canada 33,558,000 7,457 2,983 22,372 8,949
United States 305,831,000 67,962 27,185 203,887 81,555
Australia 21,585,178 4,797 1,919 14,390 5,756
China 1,321,851,888 293,745 117,498 881,235 352,494
India 1,147,995,904 255,110 102,044 765,331 306,132
The World 6,677,602,292 1,483,912 593,565 4,451,735 1,780,694
Ratio to Total Population : 1,500 3,750 500 1,250


Sheet 7: Reed08

[Reed93]
Region Total population Transitioning/Transitioned Population Estimated Gender-Variant Population
MtF FtM Male-bodied Female-bodied
South Africa 47,900,000 5,365 1,341 153,526 38,381
European Union 499,673,300 55,967 13,992 1,601,517 400,379
United Kingdom 60,975,000 6,830 1,707 195,433 48,858
Canada 33,558,000 3,759 940 107,558 26,889
United States 305,831,000 34,255 8,564 980,228 245,057
Australia 21,585,178 2,418 604 69,183 17,296
China 1,321,851,888 148,057 37,014 4,236,705 1,059,176
India 1,147,995,904 128,584 32,146 3,679,474 919,869
The World 6,677,602,292 747,939 186,985 21,402,571 5,350,643
Ratio to Total Population : 2,976 11,904 104 416

I use OpenOffice, an Open-Source alternative to MS Office and other packages. Try it, it’s as good as other packages any day of the week, and you can download it for free! ^_^

Mina

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When I began to look for information on gender variance, one of the main things for me, apart from finding out why I was the way I was, was to find out how many other people out there were like me.

I soon found that there were just no clear-cut answers around. Different sources quoted different numbers, and the disagreements about those statistics were often ugly. So I started digging, determined to find every report I could, read them all, and hopefully get some kind of indicator more or less approaching reality. Yeah, I’m a sucker for punishment. ^_^

What I’ve come up with is this list, basically, a link to every report, news-article and discussion I’ve read around the matter, and while the reality of things isn’t much clearer, the numbers do point at startling conclusions.

Depending on who you read, anywhere from one in every 2,500 to one in every 100 people who were assigned male at birth are actually transsexual. One in a hundred, and that’s a report from 2008. Female to Male transsexual people are less common, but the statistics are similarly startling, with that same 2008 report estimating numbers as high as one in every 416 assigned females being trans.

As I say though, there’s alot of controversy around the subject, and so I think it’s probably better that I just present you with all the same studies I’ve read, and let you make up your own mind. I’ve also duplicated this post as a static page which I’m continually updating with new information as it becomes available. If you’re reading this post a while since publication, there may well be more up to date information there, so check it out.

I’ve decided to list publications and events as they’ve occurred, with investigations listed chronologically down the page. Thus the latest items may be found at the bottom of the page, with the older ones listed at the top. Hopefully this will provide an understanding, not only of the findings themselves, but also place them into context and give an idea of why such controversy exists around the issue. For convenience, I’ve also included a short summary of findings for each resource listed.

If you happen across resources that I’ve not listed, please do tell. You can either post about it as a comment or send me an email and I’ll include it.

Notes on Populations

  1. Overall population statistics are assumed to be a 50% split between assigned male and assigned female.
  2. Adult population aged 18-60 is estimated at two thirds of total population, 67%.
  3. You’ll notice that most of these studies focus exclusively on Male-to-Female (MtF) transsexual people, specifically post-op. This is done mainly because it’s easy – you can point to a definite, irreversable change and obtain statistical data from surgeons fairly easily. Obviously this precludes gender-variant people who can’t have surgery due to financial or health restrictions, or who do not entirely identify as transsexual.
  4. Reliable statistics for the Female-to-Male (FtM) population are much harder to come by as phalloplasty is a much more expensive, dangerous and generally unsuccessful procedure than vaginoplasty. Consequently, many transmen opt not to have surgery, and so never become part of a fairly easily counted population. Historically the ratio has been about one FtM individual for every 2.5 MtF people. Where there’s no data I’ve used this ratio to extrapolate numbers for comparison.
  5. These statistics tend to assume that the majority of the population will have access to information about transsexuality as well as the means to medically transition, since they are based on research in developed countries such as the Netherlands and the United States. The reality in less developed countries is unlikely to correspond to these models. Populations are more likely to be ignorant of the realities or even existence of gender variance, not to mention have little chances of ever having the resources to transition.

***

[Tsoi] The prevalence of transsexualism in Singapore (1988, archived at Lynn Conway’s Website)

In 1988 Professor W.F. Tsoi, Head of the Department of Medicine at the National University of Singapore published a report containing an estimation of the number of transsexual people in Singapore, determined by counting the number of people in Singapore seeking sex-reassignment surgery and consequently diagnosed as being transsexual. The study found a ratio of one in 2,900 for male-assigned transsexual people and one in 8,300 for female assigned individuals.

[Bakker, Kesteren et al] The Prevalence of Transsexualism in the Netherlands (1993, archived at Lynn Conway’s Website)

In 1993, A. Bakker and his team published a study on the prevalence of transsexualism in the Netherlands, reporting ratios of one in 11,900 males and one in 30,400 females. Treatment and research of transsexual people in the Netherlands is quite advanced compared to the rest of the world, and these statistics were gathered by the endocrinology department at the Free University Hospital in Amsterdam.

These numbers were reported with a very important caveat attached to them though, one which seems to subsequently have been ignored or forgotten by many:

The prevalence of transsexualism in the Netherlands was estimated by cou nting all the subjects who were diagnosed as transsexuals by psychiatrists or psychologists and were subsequently hormonally treated and generally underwent sex-reassignment surgery.

As clearly stated, only those gender variant people who actually went on to transition formed part of the final report. Androgyne or Neutrois individuals, along with those who could not have surgery for whatever reason were simply not counted at all.

[Wilson et al] The Prevalence of Gender Dysphoria in Scotland, A Primary Care Study (1999, IngentaConnect)

Based on a questionaire sent out to senior partners at general practices in Scotland, it was found that 8.18 in every 100,000 patients suffered from gender dysphoria. This equated to a MtF ratio of one in 7,641, and a FtM ratio of about one in 30,562. However, the report goes on to state the following:

One-third of gender-dysphoric patients known to practices had registered in the preceding 12 months, suggesting that patients with this condition are increasingly likely to present for medical care.

Clearly showing that the final results couldn’t be regarded as an overall population. Either the number of transsexual individuals in Scotland were increasing exponentially, which is unlikely, or more likely many gender variant people are simply not seeking treatment, whether out of fear or ignorance, indicating that the gender variance is vastly underreported.

[Meyer et al] WPATH Standards of Care, Version 6 (2001, wpath.org)

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), formerly The Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA) lists official numbers of one in 11,900 males and one in 30,400 females, based on findings on [Bakker93]. It does however point out that these numbers may be considerably higher. From page two:

The earliest estimates of prevalence for transsexualism in adults were 1 in 37,000 males and 1 in 107,000 females. The most recent prevalence information from the Netherlands for the transsexual end of the gender identity disorder spectrum is one in 11,900 males and one in 30,400 females. Four observations, not yet firmly supported by systematic study, increase the likelihood of an even higher prevalence.

[Conway] How frequently does Transsexualism occur? (2001, www.lynnconway.com)

In January of 2001 Lynn Conway published a report detailing her research into the true numbers of transsexual women in the United States. Her approach was simply to count the number of post-op US MtF citizens and divide that number by the total number of adult assigned males for a ratio. Her results were startling, to say the least: one in ever 2,500 assigned males between 18 and 60 have had SRS, for a total population of between 32-and-40,000 people. Considering the financial and procedural obstacles gender-variant people face in obtaining treatment, she estimated the number of untreated individuals to be between three and five times that number, for a lower margin of one in 500 assigned males.

Extrapolating these same findings for FtM people, you’d be left with a ratio of about one in 1,250 assigned females. I’ve not calculated a ratio for post-ops as it would be a fairly meaningless statistic for the reasons listed under Notes on Populations above.

[Kelly] Estimation of Prevalence of Transsexualism in the UK (2001, www.lynnconway.com)

Donna Kelley duplicated Professor Conway’s method in the same year of 2001 and counted the number of male-assigned UK citizens who had completed SRS either in the UK or abroad. She ended up with a ratio of 1 in 3,750 individuals. She surmised that the lower incidence was probably due in large part to the relative ease with which US citizens could access competent SRS surgeons, many of whom are resident either in the US or Canada. By contrast, transsexual people from the UK and other parts of the world typically have to fly either to North America or to Thailand for surgery.

[Winter] Counting Kathoey (2002, TransgenderASIA)

In 2002, Sam Winter, an academic at Hong Kong university did an informal study on the number of transgender people, “kathoey” in the Thai language. Using kathoey assistants as “spotters”, Mr. Winter simply counted the number of passers-by in various locations, and had his assistants count the number of kathoey who happened by. They found a remarkable number of 3 in every 1,000 people, a ratio of one in every 167 assigned males.

Incidentally, Mr. Winter cites an estimate made by Richard Ehrlich in 1996 of 10,000 kathoey in Thailand. These include post-op, pre-op and non-op, and is a total population for male-assigned gender variant people. With a population of roughly 58.9 million in 1666, that equates to 1 in 1,963 assigned males. Mr. Winter regards this a conservative opinion, citing some estimates of up to 300,000.

[Conway and Olyslager] On the Calculation of the Prevalence of Transsexualism (2007, archived at Lynn Conway’s Website)

After having little success in convincing the medical and psychiatric establishment of her findings, Professor Conway followed up on her 2001 report with a presentation in 2007 at WPATH’s annual symposium. Co-authored with Femke Olyslager, the report presented a thorough reevaluation of past studies, including those by Bakker in 1993 and Tsoi in 88, along with Professor Conway’s own findings and that of other individuals within the gender-variant community. From page one, Abstract:

From this reanalysis of those early reports, we determine lower-bounds on the prevalence of the underlying condition of transsexualism to be between 1:1000 and 1:2000, using those reports own data. We then present more recent incidence data and alternative methods for estimating the prevalence of transsexualism, all of which indicate that the lower bound on the prevalence of transsexualism is at least 1:500, and possibly higher.

Echoing Professor Conway’s earlier research, this report was later published in the Dutch journal, “Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies”.

[Reed et al] Gender Dysphoria, Transsexualism and Transgenderism: Incidence, Prevalence and Growth in the UK (sep 2008, Gender Identity Research and Education Society (Gires))

In a presentation at the LGBT Health Summit in Bristol (UK) in 2008, Gires estimed prevalence of 21 individuals per 100,000, with a ratio of 4 MtF for ever FtM, based on [Wilson99]. This leads to ratios of one in 2,976 for MtF transwomen and one in 11,905 for FtM transmen, consistant with Lynn Conway’s findings in 2001.

However, the report goes on to state that prevalence might be as high as 600 individuals per 100,000. Applying the same ratio of ratio of 4 MtF for ever FtM individuals, that equates to estimates of one in 104 assigned males and one in 416 assigned females.

The report also finds that the population may be growing by as much as 12% per annum

The full presentation may be viewed here.

[Conway] Falsification of GID prevalence by the APA (2008, Lynn Conway’s Website)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, currently undergoing its fifth revision (slated for publication in 2012), is considered the “Bible of Psychiatry”. It is used by doctors and mental health professionals in their diagnosis and treatment of gender variant people, and by insurance companies and publically funded healthcare in determining whether gender variant people should be covered or not. The inclusion of Gender Identity Disorder in the DSM, starting with revision 3, has also been responsible in large part for securing what legal rights gender variant people enjoy.

Owing to the potential impact this document might have on the lives of gender-variant people, Professor Conway and other activists are currently contesting the matter of prevalence very strongly with the APA Task Force responsible for the DSM’s revision. Sadly this fight has turned nasty at times, as detailed at the main link.

***

Mina.